After a former KGB general Heydar Aliyev came to power in Azerbaijan in 1993 – political repressions started. In 2003 the father was followed by his son, Ilham Aliev and repressions against dissidents became systematic. Human rights defenders of Azerbaijan regularly compose lists of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Among them – Leyla and Arif Yunus, a couple of Azeri dissidents and human rights activists, who are now refugees in the Netherlands.
The book "Background to the crisis in Syria and perspectives on human rights & humanitarian law violations" of Yana Ballod (intern for Democracy at Foundation Max van der Stoel) has recently been published by Wolf Legal Publishers (WLP). This book is a result of an effort to gather all the pieces of the crisis in Syria together. This to provide a clear picture of what has been happening and what are the legal implications to it. Besides, it expresses frustration with the currently existing system of international decision-making and impotence when it comes to fulfilling its most important function: protecting human lives and dignity.
Nu de Roemeense parlementsverkiezingen naderen (11 december) is het extra belangrijk hoe de houding van de belangrijkste partijen tegenover Rusland is. Poetin wil zijn invloedssfeer uitbreiden. Wordt hij door Roemeense politici verwelkomd? De publieke opinie in Roemenië is overwegend anti-Poetin. Maar het is toch spannend waar dit naartoe gaat. Als Rusland geld blijft pompen in propaganda, als de EU blijft teleurstellen en de VS zich onder Trump minder bekommert om de regio, dan kunnen er invloedrijke politici overlopen naar Poetin. En dan kunnen ook de burgers gaan denken: beter een goeie buur dan een verre vriend.
On 13 November the run-off Presidential elections took place in Moldova. An openly pro-Russian socialist candidate Igor Dodon assumed presidency with 99.9% of votes counted. Dodon (Socialist Party and former economy minister in a communist 2006-2009 government) acquired 52.29% of votes against the pro-European candidate Maia Sandu (Action and Solidarity Party and former World Bank official and education minister in 2012-2015), who received 47.71%. The voters turnout was 53.3%, only 4% higher than in the first round on 30 October, while abroad it doubled. Such a result could influence the ongoing EU integration efforts of Moldova. Dodon has said during his campaign that he plans to conduct a referendum on withdrawing from the Association Agreement with the EU and joining the Eurasian Customs Union instead. Good relations with Romania and Ukraine have been claimed to be of interest to Dodon as well, even though he has said recently that Crimea is a ‘factual’ part of Russia, which caused outrage in Ukraine. Sandu, in her turn, supported the withdrawal of several thousands of Russian “peacekeeping” troops from the separatist Trans-Dniester region, which broke away in early 1990s. It was unusual that 9,000 people came to vote in Trans-Dniester this time, where they usually do not participate in Moldovan elections.
In het weekend van 4 tot 6 november organiseerde Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) in samenwerking met het Servische Center of Modern Skills (CMV) een gender training voor drie sociaaldemocratische partijen in Servië: Democratische Partij (DS), Sociaal Democratische Unie (SDU) en Liga van Sociaaldemocraten uit Vojvodina (LSV). FMS trainers Sanneke Snuverink en Janny De Boer reisden naar het mooie Zrenjanin in de provincie Vojvodina af om de training te verzorgen.
On 30 October the ruling party Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GDDG) won the second round of parliamentary elections that took place in 50 single-mandate constituencies and gained a 116-seat majority required to change the Constitution (it won 67 seats in the first round and 49 in the second). The opposition United National Movement (UNM) will remain with 27 seats and the pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots - with 6 seats. Now GDDG will be able to introduce its candidate for the post of a Prime Minister, who has more authority than the President and will form the new government. GDDG won in 48 out of 49 districts where it nominated its candidates. In Mtatsminda district of Tbilisi GDDG supported an independent candidate, Salome Zourabichvili, who won. In all 44 districts, where GDDG’s main rival was UNM, GDDG candidates won with a significant margin (e. g. 79.27% against 20.73 in Saburtalo district), including two districts (Marneuli and Akhaltsikhe/Adigeni), where UNM candidates won the first rounds. The only district, where GDDG candidate was defeated, is Khashuri, where a candidate from the Industrialists party managed to gain victory.
Social democracy in Ukraine is often surrounded by misconception. Ukrainians tend to confuse social democracy with socialism, bolshevism, communism, fascism or Nazism. Not many pay due attention to the main ideas of social democracy, such as workers’ well-being, equal opportunities, lessening the gap between rich and poor, freedom and solidarity. Social democracy’s spirit has a lot in common with the French Revolution motto “Liberté, égalité, fraternité!”. Social democracy stands against nationalistic hatred, intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. Social democracy could be the way to stop war in Donbas and fight corruption and oligarchy in post-Soviet states. If everybody is free, equal and solidary – there is simply no reason to fight a war or give a bribe.
Op 11 december wordt er in Roemenië een nieuw parlement gekozen. De grootste partij is een bolwerk van corruptie. Er is ook een nieuwkomer op het toneel, zonder wortels in de oude communistische elites.
On 7 October Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Erlan Abdyldaev gave a lecture at The Hague Clingendael Institute. Abdyldaev referred to the 25th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s independence and the importance of developing democratic institutes and civil society. He mentioned that in 2017 Kyrgyzstan will elect a new President. Abdyldaev stressed the importance of successful transition to a market economy, stable economic development and restoring destroyed economic relations. The priority sectors for Kyrgyzstan are: mining, energy, transport infrastructure and tourism. Abdyldaev emphasized that Kyrgyzstan’s main partner in foreign policy is the United Nations and that it fully adheres to its principles. He also mentioned the challenges Kyrgyzstan faces, such as international terrorism, extremism, illicit weapons and drugs trafficking, as well as money laundering.
The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of the current Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic won the parliamentary elections in Montenegro on 16 October. DPS has been in power since 1991 and this time received 41% of the votes. Djukanovic labeled these elections as a choice between NATO and Russia. Out of 81 seats in the parliament DPS will now receive 36. The party of Social Democrats of Montenegro (SD), which has close ties with DPS, won two seats. The opposition parties have 39 seats in total and might try to form an anti-coalition. In particular, the pro-Serb and pro-Russian Democratic Front coalition (DF) won 18 seats, the Grand Kljuc Coalition has 9 seats, the centre-left Democratic Montenegro got 8 seats and Social Democratic Party (SDP) gained four seats. National minority parties, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian, also have four seats. The recent election results are weaker for DPS this time and it is expected to form a coalition with SD and national minorities. Coalition negotiations will be decisive for the future course of Montenegro: whether it will move closer to the West or turn back to its traditional partners Serbia and Russia. The voters turnout on 16 October was 71% despite the actively spread through the social media flashmob of ‘staying lazy’ on elections day.